SACAA 25th Anniversary Airshow at Wonderboom - 20 Apr 2024

By Russell Dixon Paver

After some confusion with tickets, we finally received our accreditations and were able to enter and park with no further issues. Initially the event was advertised as open to the public, then it became a closed, invite only, event. Media accreditations were only finalized on the Friday before the event.

The decorated entrance foyer at Wonderboom National Airport left no doubt as to the purpose of the event.

It was a clear winter's day, starting out cool, but becoming very warm during the day, with very light winds, which changed direction during the day. It wasn't long before the aircraft flying in started arriving.

SABC and Capital Sounds were doing their final setups early on.

The Classic Flying Collection, based at Springs, flew in their Tiger Moth and two Chipmunks and parked their aircraft for static display, before they performed their aerial displays, later in the day.

Before formal proceedings got under way, Brian Emmenis from Capital Sounds interviewed Ms Poppy Khoza, Director of SACAA.

A huge "nomad-style" tent had been erected for the formal proceedings and celebrations with SACAA staff, special guests and many school children from the area in attendance. The formal part of the program began with singing of the National Anthem, after which the speeches began.

Addresses to the gathered guests were made by Ms Poppy Khoza, Mayor of Tshwane, Ciir Ciliers Brink, and the Minister of Transport, Hon Sindisiwe Chikunga, was introduced by the Chairman of the Board of SACAA, Mr Ernest Khoza.

No birthday celebration is complete without cakes!

Ms Poppy Khoza, Director of SACAA, was introduced and opened the formal proceedings.

Cllr Cilliers Brink, Executive Mayor of Tshwane Metro, who are the license-holder of the Wonderboom National Airport, outlined the huge economic potential that the airport presented and expressed the hope that the private sector would realise this and further invest.

Mr Ernest Khoza, Chairman of the SACAA board shared some recollections of his first aviation experience and introduced the Minister of Transport, Hon Sindisiwe Chikunga.

Minister of Transport, Hon Sindisiwe Chikunga, welcomed and addressed the gathered staff, invited guests and learners and outlined the milestones achieved by SACAA during the past 25 years.

When the Puma Energy Flying Lions Harvard team started up on time, as per the delayed schedule, and taxied out to the runway threshold, the flying program was under way!

Sean Thackwray, soloist of the Puma Energy Flying Lions Harvard team, fighter call sign: "Mad Max", taxis out and the team perform their power and final pre-flight checks, prior to takeoff.

General Aviation, in particular, stepped up and provided an excellent capability demonstration of men and machines by passionate and talented aviators in the AirShow program, which started late as the formal proceedings with speeches started late. AirLink also provided the only Commercial flying display of the day, with their signature loyalty-branded E195.

Puma Flying Lions - the initial call "Smoke-on, Go!", The two-ship of Ellis Levin and Arnie Meneghelli swing in from the left, Soloist, Sean Thackwray rolls inverted, Arnie crosses the team's smoke and the classic 3-ship break.

Flying Lions leader, Ellis Levin, greets the crowd as he calls "display complete".

Juba Joubert "wears" the Alouette III as he throws her around under complete control and with absolute confidence.

Andrew Blackwood-Murray does his sponsor, Nashua, proud in his aerobatic display in the Extra 300.

Classic Flying Collection Tiger Moth displayed superbly by Grant Timms.

Dr Andre Coetzee from Henley Air displays his Bell 222. They are the largest 222 operator in the world!

Raptors RV team represented by 2-ship of Trevor Warner and Deon Raath put on an excellent display.

Cirrus SR22 demonstrated by Scully Levin.

SAAF 85 Combat School Hawk display flown by Col Logie, fighter callsign: "Prowler".

Savannahs flown in superb formation by Jason Beamish and Richard Nicolson.

The SAAF Museum, based at Mobile Deployment Wing Swartkop (formerly AFB Swartkop) is holding its annual Airshow on 4 May 2024. There will be active SAAF, SAAF Museum Historic Flight and civilian owned aircraft flying displays from 10:00 to about 17:30 - an excellent family day out, with activities for all. The Museum's hangars will also be open, so static historic exhibits can also be viewed. Two of the SAAF Museum Historic Flight helicopters performed a display here, as a small sample.

"Shall we dance?" Alouette II flown by Col Dave Keijer and Alouette III flown by Lt Col van Vollenstee with flight engineer F/Sgt Herman Groenewald.

Kitplanes for Africa

Top Gun Pitts Specials in their exciting display flown by Ellis Levin, Arnie Meneghelli and Sean Thackwray.

Tristan Eeles, youngest aerobatic pilot in South Africa, puts his Extra 330SC through its paces.

Captain Jaco Henning, the display pilot for AirLink, gets airborne and tucks away the landing gear as he makes a steep takeoff, as the aircraft is lightly loaded, from Wonderboom Airport main runway. This aircraft has Airlink's special Skybucks loyalty program livery. He then executes some low passes for the crowd to see an airliner up close and finally does a dummy landing pass.

The Classic Flying Collection Chipmunk formation was flown by Rodney Chinn and Ryan Briggs. Various sedate formation passes were made, with really close and accurate formation flying, culminating in the spectacular "switchblade" break.

Juba Joubert "wears" another helicopter, this time the Gazelle. He made a breathtaking "launch" across the airfield on takeoff and then demonstrated the helicopter's and his own capabilities.

The Navion display team were only recently signed out for airshows and it was a superb debut. Reyno Coetser and Mike George flew an excellent display and the copious smoke makes for great photographs!

SAPS demonstrated a crime scene situation. First the Squirrel got airborne to join the Porter on air patrol. The aircrew members involved here were Rob Siegrest and Tillane Neethling piloting the Porter and Squirrel respectively. Then the call for assistance was received, while ground members set up a roadblock to stop the hi-jacked vehicle. The Squirrel came in with the dog handler and apprehended the suspect, much to the delight of the crowd. All the while Capital Sounds had Elvis giving high-energy commentary, rounded off with the sound track of Squad Cars, and SAPS got their man!

Andre van Zyl's Magni Gyro capability was well demonstrated (not sure if it was him or someone else). The addition of a smoke system makes the photographs much more interesting.

In the first of these two images there is an interesting interference-pattern in the shadow of the propulsion propeller on the underside of the rotor. Many maneuvers were demonstrated, including an auto-rotation recovery, where the exit is shown in the second image.

The final flying display of the day was the Goodyear Eagles aerobatic team, presenting excellent close formation flying and co-ordination. The Pitts Specials were capably flown by Jason Beamish and Gareth Gill.

All-in all a great event as an Airshow, but a great pity that the celebration was not extended to the broader public, who as tax payers, are funding SACAA.

Well done to the ASSA management team on ensuring a safe and enjoyable airshow part of the event.

The delay in the start of the program had the unintended consequence that the quality of the lighting became better later in the afternoon.

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